White House economic advisor refuses to rule out VAT — six different times in one TV appearence 

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration’s economic team was kicking the policy tires on a national value added tax (VAT) as a means of dealing with the deficit, among other things. But earlier today, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration was not considering a VAT.

If Gibbs is telling the truth, then why did White House economic advisor Austan Goolsbee, appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, refuse six different to rule out a VAT? Americans for Tax Reform kept count:

MARK HALPERIN: Will the President ever consider tax reform that will involve a VAT? Would he ever consider it?
(Refusal #1) GOOLSBEE: Look, we are not, the  report — and I’m not sure where it came from cause it’s not anything I saw — was that they were contemplating a VAT, that is not true. We have stood up this bipartisan fiscal commission, which as I understand it is considering a whole bunch of things.
HALPERIN: But would he ever consider..
(Refusal #2) GOOLSBEE: He’s going to consider whatever comes out of that fiscal commission.
HALPERIN: So if they recommend a VAT, he would consider it?
(Refusal #3) GOOLSBEE: I’m not going to get into a linguistic game about it.
HALPERIN: Well it’s not a linguistic game.
(Refusal #4) GOOLSBEE: He’s looking to see what comes out of the fiscal commission. He’s going to look at it.
HALPERIN: We had a President for eight years who said ‘no new taxes, we’re not going to raise taxes’. This President said ‘no taxes on the middle class’. Arguably there are taxes in the healthcare bill that will hit the middle class. So again, a VAT would be a big change in America. Would he consider it, if the commission recommends it,  would he consider it?
(Refusal #5) GOOLSBEE: As you know, the President cut taxes for 95 percent of the workers in the stimulus. Many many billions of dollars. The President is committed to this bipartisan fiscal commission process and he’s going to seriously consider all the things that they put forward and he’s going to look at them. It doesn’t mean he’s supporting a VAT. We haven’t even contemplated a VAT.
HALPERIN: But if they recommend it, it’s not something he’d rule out?
(Refusal #6) GOOLSBEE: I’m not going to get into a hypothetical thing about it. He’s committed to a bipartisan fiscal commission.
It’s safe to say they are considering a VAT, all right.

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Mark Hemingway

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